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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) Bud McFarlane (left)—an Iran-Contra criminal also investigated in '09 for his secret communications with another U.S. foe, Sudan—will become a player in the Russia investigation due to the arrest of Maria Butina. Read this thread to learn why. I hope you'll pass this on.
1/ One of the less-discussed aspects of the Butina indictment—which puts Butina at the center of a Russian-spy conspiracy in the U.S. along with her "boyfriend," GOP operative Paul Erickson—is that Erickson lobbied Trump *hard* to get K.T. McFarland named Mike Flynn's Deputy NSA.
2/ As Rachel Maddow has noted, Erickson's lobbying is a) suspicious now that we know he was consorting with a Russian spy while trying to craft a Putin-Trump backchannel, and b) *strange* given how long McFarland had been out of politics and how big a job Erickson wanted for her.
3/ Given that Erickson was lobbying to get McFarland a job beside Flynn atop the nation's national-security apparatus at a time his girlfriend was working with her Kremlin handler on stacking Trump's Cabinet with Russia-approved picks, Erickson's push for McFarland looks crooked.
4/ At the *same time* Erickson was lobbying for McFarland to come out of retirement, *another* man was engaged in the *same lobbying effort* for the *same woman*—making it seem a statistical impossibility the two men weren't in contact (given McFarland's *improbable* candidacy).
5/ That other man was Bud McFarlane—K.T. McFarland's mentor. (Note the different last names; the two aren't related.) And Bud McFarlane's role in the Russia story so far (a) explains why he'd be pushing the DNSA pick Putin wanted, and (b) suggests he was in cahoots with Erickson.
6/ Keep in mind *anyone* who was in cahoots with Erickson is in *big* trouble right now, as Erickson is either about to be indicted as "U.S. Person 1" in the Butina conspiracy or—*far* more likely—is already cooperating and giving to federal investigators all his co-conspirators.
7/ So you *really* need to understand Bud McFarlane's role in the Trump-Russia timeline, which I've written about here on the feed *extensively*—as I place Trump's "Mayflower Speech" at the center of Trump's coordination with Putin—but which mainstream media has largely ignored.
8/ McFarlane was a VIP at Trump's private "cocktail hour" with top aides and Russia's ambassador before his April 27, 2016 speech at the Mayflower Hotel—in which speech he promised Russia a "good deal" on sanctions. The event was sponsored by the Center for the National Interest.
9/ The National Interest has been described as a pro-Kremlin outfit by POLITICO Europe—so it should be no surprise that no less a Russian spy than Maria Butina herself has written for The National Interest. So them declaring McFarlane a VIP when he's a washed-up Reaganite is odd.
10/ Just as it's odd that Butina co-conspirator Erickson (and, concurrently McFarlane) were pushing for K.T. McFarland to get a job alongside Flynn—given that McFarland had been retired a long time—it was odd TNI thought an old Reaganite criminal should be hobnobbing with Trump.
11/ But we now know why. In the 2000s, McFarlane got involved in energy projects around the world, including Russia. He became an advocate for opening up energy markets—which means dropping sanctions on Russia. And most importantly he became a lobbyist alongside powerful people.
12/ Two of the people Bud lobbied Trump alongside? Michael Flynn and Trump's top advisor and close friend, Tom Barrack. So was it really TNI that invited McFarlane to Trump's event, or was it Michael Flynn, who'd just joined the campaign? Or Tom Barrack, Trump's pal? Or Manafort?
13/ We know Manafort—who'd just ousted Lewandowski from the campaign's power center—and Kushner set up the Mayflower event, and it seems clear they moved it last-minute from the National Press Club (where it was supposed to be) *because* they *wanted* a private VIP cocktail hour.
14/ McFarlane had *another* reason to be at the Mayflower besides (a) having professional ties to TNI himself, (b) his closeness to Trump aides, and (c) his openness to Trump's pro-Russia foreign policy. The other reason was the Rosneft oil deal—which was held up by US sanctions.
15/ Three key nations in the Rosneft deal—Russia's biggest-ever oil deal, complicated by sanctions—were Italy, Russia, and Singapore. The ambassadors to *all three nations* were invited to the Mayflower by either the Trump campaign or TNI. All broke diplomatic protocol to attend.
16/ The same sanctions complicating the Rosneft deal were *also* complicating things for the UAE and Saudi Arabia—who wanted nuclear tech from the U.S. that Russian energy firms would then help them utilize by building power plants. McFarlane was involved in this lobbying effort.
17/ So Trump had managed to get into a room a a large group of people who all wanted Russian sanctions gone because of energy interests—along with, of course, Manafort, Kushner, and Sessions (all of whom have lied about their own private Russia meetings during the Mueller probe).
18/ While Flynn wasn't at the Mayflower, he *would* be at Trump Tower in early December 2016 when McFarlane showed up there to lobby in person for K.T. McFarland's hire—again, the very same (and incredibly obscure) effort Russian co-conspirator Erickson was then engaged in also.
19/ McFarland would get the job, then *lie to Congress* about whether she knew Flynn spent the transition making secret calls to—and deals with—the Russians. In lying to Congress, she *validated* fears that McFarlane and Erickson wanted her in the White House as a Russian plant.
20/ When her White House role became untenable after Flynn's firing, the White House felt compelled to *reward* her—which turned out to be a mistake, given that her lies to Congress came at her confirmation hearing—by making her the ambassador to...*Singapore* (a Rosneft nation).
21/ But then McFarland became part of Mueller's probe. We learned that Kushner (who helped set up the Mayflower event—indeed, is suspected of being the person who invited Kislyak in an April 2016 phone call) and *McFarland* had coached Flynn on illegally negotiating with Russia.
22/ So at this point, *anyone* pushing for McFarland as DNSA is going to be looked at hard—though I'd suspect that class of persons includes only two people: McFarlane and Erickson. Anyone else involved in that Byzantine effort would presumably likewise be caught up with Russia.
23/ What makes it nearly *certain* McFarlane has a tale to tell is his link to TNI (like Butina), his lobbying links to the now-convicted Flynn, his past as a criminal *who specifically is known for secret communications with America's enemies*, and his presence at the Mayflower.
24/ If Bud McFarlane worked with Erickson, Erickson has likely already given him up. If he worked with Flynn—which he did—Flynn *has* already given him up. If he came across Butina via TNI, then Butina—who has offered to cooperate with investigators—is likely to give him up soon.
25/ The Mayflower Mystery *must* be solved. Trump colluded in plain sight: learned what policies Russia wanted and that Russia was working to support him, met with Russians/their intermediaries, then made public announcements—or, in July, requests—that established a quid pro quo.
CONCLUSION/ Flynn would likely have already told Mueller about McFarlane's backroom lobbying efforts—but it's less clear whether Flynn knew that McFarlane *may* have been a co-conspirator with Erickson and Butina to install McFarland. He'll be questioned—or already has been. /end
PS/ Here's McFarlane entering (with Kislyak) the ballroom where Trump spoke at the Mayflower after the VIP event. He's holding a ceremonial sword—which we've learned was some sort of gift/award but we don't know from whom. We really need to know—especially if it's a curved sword.
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